Creative spirits: Ply in Manchester’s Northern Quarter

Ply Manchester

The team behind Manchester’s Kosmonaut have opened a second bar in the Northern Quarter

After winning plaudits for Manchester bar Kosmonaut, Joe Fearnhead and Alex Johnson are having further success with a second site in the city’s Northern Quarter. They have opened Ply, a bright new bar and restaurant in the Stevenson Square area. It offers antipasti and Neapolitan pizza cooked in a giant mirror-ball pizza oven, built by a team from Naples, alongside artisan coffee, cocktails, spirits, good-quality wines and craft beers, including brews from their own Alphabet Brewery.

Ply is also described as a creative space for producing work and exhibiting, with both permanent artwork by Manchester’s Layla Sailor and a regularly changing programme of artists. Using the whole space as a creative canvas, it opened with illustrator Will Broome, followed by New York City experimental artist Andrew Salomone.

In line with this creative environment, Ply also features a library and book exchange and a doodle wall.
Creativity is reflected in the cocktail list, with drinks such as the Painter’s Palette, combining Beefeater Gin with rhubarb, strawberries and prosecco. Twists on the classics include the Side Car Named Desire, mixing the cognac with chilli, coriander and apple.

Ply Manchester

All the interiors were designed and built by the owners with creative design and branding agency Instruct Studio, which was tasked with creating a cohesive visual style throughout the venue and across all printed and digital collateral.

The 5,500 sq ft former textile warehouse was stripped back, revealing the services of the building. Walls were whited out to enable colours and textures to breathe around the space. Pastel tones cover Formica tables, bright gradient colours shine from light boxes in every window and a layer of warmth is created with a tiled cork floor.

Keeping the space largely open plan, the lighting has been carefully designed to create sections within the space, featuring Italian Flos drop and Nud cast-concrete pendants, which create a more intimate atmosphere at night.

Furniture is a mixture of classic and crafted pieces, with classic Eames designs sitting alongside custom pieces made in Manchester. Instruct worked with Islington Mill’s Workroom Industries to build various items from light boxes to signage.

Designer John Owens from Instruct Studio said: “When working on the concept with the owners of Ply, we wanted to keep things interesting, and took our inspiration from beyond Manchester. We looked for ideas in new places, including the cities and countries we’ve travelled to and the venues where we’ve felt most social and comfortable.”

It is proving a winning combination with Ply already nominated for the title of bar of the year in September’s Manchester Food & Drink Festival Awards. Open from midday seven days a week until as late as 2am on Fridays and Saturdays, it is an exciting new destination whether you want cocktails and a pizza or just to have a coffee and a doodle.

Ply Manchester

Ply, 26 Lever Street, Manchester, M1 1DW
Tel: 0161 711 0401

Originally published in the August 2015 print edition of Bar magazine.

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